Apple suffers worst share price fall in four years as $35bn wiped off tech giant

Is this the beginning of the end for Apple? As evidence it is slipping behind on all fronts begins to mount, its stock price collapses.

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SymbolPriceChange
NOKI-SEK.ST48.04-0.27
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AAPL567.09+42.34
0762.HK10.38+0.380

Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) suffered its worst one-day share price fall in almost four years on Wednesday on fears it was losing market share to rivals and disappointment over the lack of a special dividend.

The maker of the iPhone and iPad saw its shares fall 6.4pc to $538.79, the biggest one-day drop since December 17, 2008, with America’s biggest company losing almost $35bn off its market value. It is now worth just under $507bn.

Analysts expressed concerns that Apple risked losing ground to Nokia (Amsterdam: NAI.AS - news) smartphones in China, while failing to keep pace with Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG - news) in the tablets market.

Fears were triggered by an announcement that China Mobile (HKSE: 0941.HK - news) , China’s biggest mobile operator, had agreed to carry the Lumia 920T, a device based on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 software.

Apple has agreements with China Telecom and China Unicom (HKSE: 0762.HK - news) (Hong Kong) to sell iPhones but is yet to strike a deal with China Mobile in the world’s leading mobile-phone market.

“Nokia (Stockholm: NOKI-SEK.ST - news) announced that they are launching one of their Lumia phones with China Mobile, and there was some hope that Apple would launch their iPhone on that network,” Gus Papageorgiou, an analyst with Scotia Capital told Bloomberg. “I think they still will, but they’ll probably launch closer to Chinese New Year.”

Traders were also spooked by a report from research firm IDC forecasting that Apple’s share of the tablet market will slip to 53.8pc this year from 56.3pc in 2011, while Google’s share will increase to 42.7pc from 39.8pc.

It added that Apple’s tablet share will slip below 50pc by 2016, as total global tablet sales more than double to nearly 283m units in four years as consumers increasingly opt for them rather than personal computers.

Analysts added that Apple’s slide was also due to some traders betting against the shares, alongside disappointment from some investors that the company was not following the likes of Oracle (Xetra: 871460 - news) and Wal-Mart in paying a special dividend.

Apple accounted for all of the Nasdaq (Nasdaq: ^NDX - news) 100’s 1.1pc fall, while the Dow Jones (DJI: ^DJI - news) index, which does not include Apple, saw its best trading day for a week, rising 82.71 to 13034.49.